Published Thursday, 04-May-2006 in issue 958
“So I read your column in the GLT. It was good, but it’s kind of boring. You do the same thing all the time,” was how the e-mail I got went. I have said that I’m a creature of habit, but at times I was thinking the same thing about my column. I needed something more. I needed to spice things up, do something new. And when life becomes predictable, doesn’t there come a time when you have to start thinking outside the box?
Every year, the annual Taste of Uptown/Hillcrest draws people from all over San Diego to the gayborhood to sample our fine-dining options. Everyone from drag queens to moms pushing their babies on strollers takes to the streets, and I usually take in the festivities with my softball team. The typical route would be to stop for a cocktail at Hamburger Mary’s, make our way down Fourth and Fifth avenues to The Loft for a cocktail, then hit #1 Fifth Ave. for another round before checking out new restaurants like Saigon on Fifth and The Asian Bistro. But this year, I was behind the bar at Martinis Above Fourth, where people new to Hillcrest were getting a taste of what a real martini is.
By the time my shift was wearing down, I was beat from serving drinks all day and I was ready to get out of the bar.
As I was trying to make my escape, my friend John, who was sitting at the bar talking on his cell phone, grabbed me saying, “Vigs wants to talk to you.”
Before Vigs even opened his mouth, I knew that it was about the John Rinaldi for Congress campaign, which he was managing in the 52nd District. But he quickly jumped in saying, “Now that Nicole is talking us up in her column, I think it’s time for you to put us in yours.”
“I know, I know,” I said. “Fund-raiser on May 7 at the home of Michael Growe, and everyone is going to be there. But I can’t make it because my softball team is hosting brunch at Martinis Above Fourth, and we’re all getting auctioned off. I’m sure I’ll be in no condition for a political fund-raiser after that.”
So after finishing my shift at the bar, I decided to head out for a drink with some friends who were in town from L.A. for work. I met up with Steven, Rob, Tony and the rest of the gang at Bourbon Street, where the place was packed. It was a nice change of pace; I got the chance to go someplace I hadn’t been to in awhile and hang out with people I don’t see down here in San Diego every day.
While we were standing out on the patio drinking, I asked Rob how he was enjoying San Diego.
“It’s great, but we’re eating out too much,” he said. “And what’s up with the people here? They’re really friendly, like talk-to-you-when-you’re-riding-in-the-elevator-with-them friendly. We don’t do that in L.A.”
My softball games were rained out this past weekend, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I had been working extra shifts at the bar again, and decided to go out for couple of drinks with friends at Bourbon Street to blow off some steam. After the patio closed, we took over the upstairs lounge area where the drinks continued to flow until closing time.
With the next morning to relax, I decided to take my friends Alex and Jason up on an offer to join them for brunch. I rattled off all of the usual suspects like Hamburger Mary’s, The Mission, Park House Eatery and Café on Park until Alex interrupted me, saying, “I was thinking of Canes in Mission Beach.”
It turned out to be a perfect day at the beach, and there wasn’t even a wait for a table.
As we returned to Hillcrest, we ended up behind a car in which the guy (who was obviously at a different party than we were) was rocking out to whatever tune it was he had on the radio.
“Oh, gurl,” was all Jason could muster. But at about that time, it became obvious from the waving that the guy in the car in front of us had caught us watching. And the best part was, he didn’t care and kept right on rocking out.
Jason and I got invited to go to a little Captain Morgan party at Deco’s downtown with my friends Dale, Chaz and Johnny. While rum may not be my thing, free drinks certainly are, so I agreed to go. Before we headed out, we decided to hit dinner at Rice Jones, where some Ginger Chicken hit the spot.
The Captain Morgan party included a taste test of different brands of rum, and, of course, I was always able to pick out the Captain Morgan. Our reward was free drinks, but I think my cocktails at Martinis have made me numb. When the gang all got passion fruit cosmos, our reaction was unanimous. I believe it was Chaz who put it best: “That’s not a cocktail, that’s just Ocean Spray with a splash of rum!”
So, yeah, maybe my life does get boring and predicable now and then, what with always eating dinner on Monday nights at Baja Betty’s and all of the other things that I do when I get stuck in a rut. The thing is, every once in awhile you have to remember that there is a whole world out there to feast on. It’s not always about staying in Hillcrest or drinking the same drinks all the time. Sometimes you just have to realize that you don’t have to worry about who is looking at you or watching you, and just go out and do what you want to do – even if it is at a different party from the one everyone else is at.